Monday, December 15, 2008

The Ultimate Christmas Wish

(Picture Left: Carrie and Julie. Julie is a sweet, Austrailian Kelpie mix who was on Euth list at shelter for failure to be adopted in less than a week. Fortunately, for Julie, Carrie was willing and able to take in a second, "Eleventh Hour dog." That only there were no more "eleventh hours" for all the others we can't get to in time.)

Ah, ten days before Christmas.

Like everyone else, animal rescuers usually find themselves in a mad rush before the holidays, but, not so much in traveling or family plans, but rather acknowledgment of those who have supported the organization over the past year, either through contributions or adoption.

Try as we may though, we know we don't get to everyone.

"Support" comes in many ways. The most obvious is financial donation, but just as important (or even more so) are those people who have fostered animals over the year or who have adopted a cat or dog.

All three are necessary for an organization or rescue group to be "successful" and continue to be able to responsibly rescue, care for and place animals.

These days, rescue has become more and more expensive and challenging.

Unlike past decades when animals were offered to the public "as is" with little or no information known about the pets and little attention paid to the animals' medical needs, these days shelters and animal rescuers are not only expected to "know" everything about a particular animal, but also to be able to predict how animals will behave in individual homes and take care of all the animals' medical needs prior to adoption, including neutering.

Adopters seemingly are only required to know what they want.

As covered in previous entries, what people "want" and what is actually good for them can be two very different things.

I have many people to be grateful to for helping to get the organization and me through what has been a pretty tough year for the animals.

The current economic crisis is impacting negatively upon all animal shelters and shelters in turn, place more pressure on rescues to take animals.

But, rescues can only take animals according to the availability of open foster homes or their means to pay high boarding expenses. Additionally, they have to be able to place/adopt out animals at a pretty fast pace in order to take in new ones.

Most rescues -- especially cat rescues -- are completely "maxed out" at this point.

But, still there are all those kind and generous people who have supported, one way or the other over the year.

They need to be acknowledged, thanked and updated, particularly at the end of the year.

I am quite busy right now in trying to get out a year-end newsletter, send out Christmas cards and figuring out acknowledgements or gifts to those who have been particularly helpful in fostering -- indeed, the lifeblood of any rescue group. Without fosters, it is virtually impossible to do rescue in any appreciable numbers. On the contrary, there is too much danger of some rescuers taking in too many animals as individuals and dancing with the line of eventually becoming "collectors."

Certainly that danger is one that every animal rescuer has to face and be always acutely aware. One has to lean how to draw lines and learn when and how to say, "no."

I in fact, had to say "no" to a fellow rescuer last week who was in a dire emergency situation when one her fosters suddenly bailed on three cats. "Jane" (not her real name) begged me to take in the three cats. I told her I could not bring in more cats to my home even on a temporary basis, but was willing to help her with boarding costs.

I am not sure what Jane ultimately decided (hopefully she found other people to take in the cats). I felt terrible saying "no" to a friend and colleague, but I had to. There was no other choice. I am at my limit in terms of animals in my home.

I hope in writing this journal that more people are inspired to help in hands-on ways. While this journal focuses on the animal overpopulation and abandonment problems in New York City, it could be written from Anywhere, USA, as the animal situations are pretty much the same in all large cities and indeed, the smaller communities throughout our land.

All rescues need fosters. All shelters and rescues need donations. And of course, we all strive for the all important adoptions.

But, ultimately, our "dream" is that there would come a day when we no longer receive the "dire emergency" ("Please take in these animals!") 11 th hour phone calls and "Euthanasia Alerts" on our computers everyday.

Rescue itself will never "go out of business," because there will always be need to help those animals whose owners have fallen on particularly desperate times or those animals struggling, breeding and dying on our streets.

It's just the 11 th hour, "do or die" nature of these events that is so troubling and ultimately defeating and depressing. - That and the lack of places to send animals on such short, "make or break" notice.

If only the availability of rescues, fosters and resources was able to meet the demands for these services, oh, what a wonderful world it would be!

That is my ultimate Christmas wish: A day when there was no "Euthanasia List." -- A day when no loving cat or dog would die for simple lack of a place to go. --- PCA